10 Things You Can Do to Help the Homeless

10 Things You Can Do To Help The Homeless

If you're wondering how to help a homeless person on the street, this list of great ideas will help you and your kids understand how to help the homeless where you live. 

In September of 2007 Jon Linton began gathering imagery to document the homeless on the streets of Phoenix Arizona. That Fall he had volunteered both time and resources at a local homeless shelter to better understand the circumstance and plight of those without a place to call home. His project took shape, when the first man he photographed wept as he asked him his name. “You have no idea how long it has been since someone cared to ask my name”, he stated.


Through the course of this journey Jon has met many souls that through a bad set of circumstances, addiction or mental illness find themselves without a door to walk through at day’s end. They had fallen into what some had referred to as an “Invisible World". The I Have a Name Project is a humble attempt to bring dignity and humanity to those less fortunate among us.

Jon encourages you to go out and help another in need. He says your soul will thank you and reminds you to always practice compassion with these 10 tips that will help you better understand how you can help someone on the street.

At The End Of Life We Will Not Be Judged By How Many Diplomas We Have Received How Much Money We Have Made How Many Great Things We Have Done

What You Can Do to Help the Homeless

1. Respect the homeless as individuals 

Give homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would afford your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance.

2. Respond with kindness 

We can make quite a difference in the lives of the homeless when we respond to them, rather than ignore or dismiss them. Try a kind word and a smile.

3. Develop lists of shelters 

Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless. You can find shelters in your phone book.

4. Bring food 

It's as simple as taking a few extra sandwiches when you go out. When you pass someone who asks for change, offer him or her something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave.

5. Give money 

One of the most direct ways to aid the homeless is to give money. Donations to non-profit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way.

6. Donate clothing 

Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good condition, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.

7. Donate a bag of groceries 

Load up a bag full of non-perishable groceries and donate it to a food drive in your area. If your community doesn't have a food drive, organize one. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and ask what kind of food donations they would like.

8. Volunteer at a shelter 

Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain or as much as a step forward to self-sufficiency.

9. Volunteer at a soup kitchen 

Soup kitchens provide one of the basics of life, nourishing meals for the homeless and other disadvantaged members of the community. Volunteers generally do much of the work, including picking up donations of food, preparing meals, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. To volunteer your services, contact your local soup kitchen, mobile food program, shelter, or religious center.

10. Advocate

Get involved in your local community. Help agencies in your area whose policy and initiatives support the goal of ending homelessness.

Do you have suggestions of things people can do to help someone in need? We'd love you to list them below.

Jon Linton

AUTHOR: Jon Linton - The I Have a Name Project
Jon is the founder of The I Have a Name Project and its Let's Be Better Humans campaign which you can follow on Facebook.
The project is a humble art and advocacy initiative to remind us that we all belong to one human race.


  1. ralph hermsen says:

    I do not know if I am a good person or just another who picks and chooses to help. There are times I see people standing on street corners looking for assistance, Some time I will help. I always carry a cooler full of extra cold water and no matter who it is I offer them cold water, especially here in Arizona, where it has been weeks over 115 degrees. If someone asks for help because they are hungry and there is a dinner or fast food place nearby, I tell them to meet me over there and I will buy them what they want to eat. The real people in need usually will go here, but if they say that they rather have money, I ignore them and move on. One incident I will always remember is in California, While on vacation I stopped to eat at one of the fast food places. There was this filthy, dirty, smelly disabled man who asked me if I get him a hamburger and a drink, as he had not eaten since yesterday. I offered him food if he went inside with me. He refused as his order was very offensive, and he did not want the place to call the police on him. I ended up buying a high meal with a drink, sandwich, fries, and the whole nine yards. He told me that his “partner” was hiding away from the public/police, and would like some food so I also bought his “partner” the same meal. Before leaving I gave them some extra money to get a roadside motel room so that they could get a shower and wash clean up and be less offensive in smell, and at least get one day in a cool room, and sleep in a bed instead of the ground. Anyway, if the homeless person shows me that they really need help to better themselves and not go buy booze or drugs, I will help, if not I ignore them. I myself am disabled, but lucky enough to help others if they need it.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Ralph,
      It sounds like you have a very kind and generous heart. I agree you need to be careful and I personally choose to buy a meal rather than give money. Making time to chat and listen to their story if they want to share can be just as helpful if that’s what they need. Thanks for helping.
      Enjoy your day,
      Lis 🙂

  2. Tara Hayes says:

    I would like to start a few things. I have personally been homeless more than once. I would like to address their dogs. I would like to start wellness checks , food, water and necessities. Dogs are a man’s best friend and especially when your alone. They are innocent loving wonderful companions. They deserve a voice. They deserve food and shelter as well. Homeless people cannot afford to take their dogs to the vet or get proper nutrition for them. Being Homeless is heartbreaking. We take so many things for granted. We can all help in some way. Please remember everyone needs to bathe and have clean clothes. Nothing is worse than being homeless other than looking and feeling homeless. Perhaps offer to wash a load of laundry. We all need tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant all the items we all use on a daily basis. Maybe even offer an old cell phone you don’t use. Something that will connect to WiFi, maybe go the extra mile with a phone card. Go shopping in your garage I’m sure you can find something you do use that someone else would appreciate. Please keep in mind homeless women need special items men do not. Perhaps taking a few minutes to have a heart to heart conversation . If everyone lived it once they would understand. It’s not a choice for many. We can do and be better 💜

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Tara,
      I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like on the street. Nobody can unless they’ve been there. I really like your suggestion of offering to wash their laundry. That’s something I’d not thought of. Thank you!
      Take care,
      Lis 🙂

  3. (I read elsewhere )you could offer to do their laundry for them, take them to a laundromat, and treat them to coffee and a meal while waiting for clothes to wash.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Anne,
      You’re the second person to suggest washing clothing. It’s a great idea. Thank you!
      Enjoy your day.
      Lis 🙂

  4. I started planting food on the street side of my fence so that people can come by and pick the food if they are hungry. I need to paint on my fence something like “Take the food. Leave the roots”

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Nancy,
      That’s a wonderful idea. Fruit and veg on nature strips or in front gardens that are accessible. Great suggestion! Thanks.
      Have a happy day.
      Lis 🙂

  5. I LOVE that respect is at the top of your list. So many people “help” but do so while looking down on the homeless and making them feel less than.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Thank you for all the work you do to help rough sleepers, Deb. It’s appreciated.

  6. I like reading content about giving or helping as it motivates me to help others. Even how small or big, as long as it comes from our heart, it brings happiness to others. Anyway, thank you for posting this!

    1. RippleKindness says:

      I absolutely agree. Thanks for helping.

  7. Esther Boram says:

    I am a college student, and I was assigned to work on a project. I didn’t know what to start with or what to do. I gathered ideas and information and one of my ideas was “helping homeless people”. I am glad I came across this because it gives me the motivation and courage to continue with my project. It also helps me with more ideas and an understanding of what to do. Thank you for all that you do for the community and people that are in need. God Bless you!!!!!

    1. RippleKindness says:

      I’m so glad to hear about your project. I hope you continued with your idea for helping the homeless. It would be lovely to hear how it goes. Best of luck.
      Kind regards,
      Lis 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for all you do. N C has a large and growing number of homeless people our church help as much as possible and there’s still more to do. MD.

  9. Debra Bonneau says:

    My name is Debra Bonneau. I live in Pittsburgh Pa.
    3 yrs ago I spearheaded a blanket drive for the homeless. 1st yr= 40 blankets
    2nd yr= 100 blankets
    This year as of last week=
    14 bags of items including 203 blankets, both adult and childrens, 50 products of socks,
    And 30 Blessing bags filled with cocoa, toothbrush and toothpaste, Hand sanitizer and lions balm and hand and feet warmers stuffed In donated pack packs.
    We feel blessed for the neighborhood support.
    Items will go to 3 separate facilities on Saturday.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Debra,
      That’s an amazing effort and you should be proud of yourself for the kindness and generosity you’ve extended to people you don’t even know. Well done!

  10. Helping the homeless is worth it. I love to see homeless people smile when I help; the most significant part is that they are thankful and blessed, no matter how small or big the support you give them.

  11. Jennifer Singleton says:

    I am Jennifer, Founder of Embracesations, Inc, a homeless initiative. Embracesations, is the sensation of embracing one another through one kind act, meal and bag. I started this initiative in Feb., 2021. Friends, Family and I go out monthly every third Saturday and distribute care packages (tee shirt, socks, basic toiletries, snack pack and a meal) directly to the homeless in the downtown Newark, NJ area. The above tips are awesome and it was by some of them and my own personal experiences, I was able to jump start the initiative, become a change agent and try to brighten someone’s day. If you’re in the area looking to support a cause I could use all the help. Pics of care packages and service can be viewed on IG: @embracesations1. Thank you to everyone for helping someone in need. It was once me, this initiative is personal.

  12. Connie Castillo says:

    My heart has always been in helping the homeless every way I can. I used to travel a lot through my work and I collected the bottles of shampoos, conditioners, cream lotions and soaps and donate them to the shelter. Every change of season, I go through my clothes to put away. I collect all the clothes that I didn’t wear that year and give to the shelter. I want to start a self-care package campaign where I collect hygiene items such as tooth paste, tooth brushes, soaps, lotions, hair brushes, combs and maybe some first-aid kits and put them in a bag and give to homeless people on the streets.

  13. I’m glad you talked about how we could help homeless people and make a difference! Recently, my wife and I decided we’d like to do something for our community. We want to help people in need, so we’ll be sure to read and follow your tips! Thanks for the advice on volunteering at shelters for homeless people.

    1. Louie’s Evie says:

      I’m currently on a mission to advocate in my city and surrounding areas for a better form of free transportation to shuttle less financially stable individuals experiencing a relapse in their recovery or in need of urgent immediate substance abuse assistance. Outcry to Day One in detox in less than 8 hrs at a state funded program- minimum 100 miles from the individuals inner city of origin is a must and essential for success is my personal opinion due to own experiences and generally the better quality facilities are miles away from the city and all of its distractions that usually derailed me due to ease of access while on the other hand when in a top notch facility hundreds of miles from my comfort zone and no personal vehicle to help side in changing my mind I have a better chance of sticking to the program and focusing on healing. Primarily though this ride would be the essential lifeline connecting the less fortunate to immediate help no judgement no worries just focus on healing now because you are safe now in taking the first step of recovery. And in a perfect world a hot meal or voucher for one along the way would be included with that long but deeply essential free ride to recovery. A nonprofit offering this service named after my Louie who lost his battle to his addiction while waiting on his help that was never offered or made available to him until it was just too late.his help never came and so I hope to help others before it’s too late. But first, I have to take my first step and catch my ride this Friday to begin my journey of my own while honoring his memory and healing myself as well first.

      1. RippleKindness says:

        I’m so sorry for your loss. It must have been heartbreaking to know that the help was there but not available in time. This is such a hard road but you’re brave and strong.
        I wish you all the very best on your own journey. Stay strong.
        Lis 💗

  14. Our city has shelters available for homeless people. This woman I check on down my street is not willing to give up her bags of belonging. How can I go about to convince her to leave her stuffs? Shelter only allows two bags per person?

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Gadolina
      I can understand this lady not wanting to part with her belongings. Though it may not look like much, it’s all she has. Perhaps you could offer to help her go through her things and choose what she wants to take with her and what she could put in “storage”. If you have a little space at your place, maybe you could offer to keep them for her? Or contact the shelter and ask them if there is somewhere she can store them.
      Best of luck,

    2. Margaret Moffatt says:

      Maybe say if you get two bags to take to the shelter, you will go through them with her and keep the things that are useful or of real sentimental value to her , just gently suggest it at first , maybe tell a story of how you cleared out your home to move etc and how good it made you feel, a fresh new start , May take a while maybe show some examples of before and after , also suggest there some space for something new !! Worth a try x it very kind of you to care so she a lucky lady as a friend who genuinely wants to help you is hard for anyone to find , i wonder what and why the bags are so important to her ? Maybe she feels that all she has left to hold on to, so all you can do is your best get creative, life never stands still and just helping one person in need is worth more than anything in those bags or anywhere, all you can do is help and guide her the rest is up to her , has this lady got any health issues etc ?
      Kind regards
      Maggie May xx

    3. Maybe you could keep her extra things at your place. Tell her you will store them until she gets out. The goal is to get homeless people out of a shelter and back on their feet.

    4. Carmen Tourney says:

      I agree with RippleKindness and Margaret Moffatt but would go one step further. Be prepared for not being able to convince her because I hear some shelters are worse than being on the street. Be prepared to take or continue to take steps to offer whatever help you can where she is currently at both physically and emotionally. Thank you for caring about her.

  15. I love how you stated that a shelter can help homeless people to move towards self-sufficiency. I think that homeless shelters also provide a place of comfort and security for those who can not find that anywhere else. I think that it would be super beneficial for homeless people to find a shelter where they fit in and are appreciated and taken care of.

  16. Well, I agree with you that homeless people must be treated with respect because dismissing them will just make them feel small. You’re also right that it would be a great idea to offer them food rather than money. My mother and I have been wanting to help people like them because we know that life is tough, especially during this pandemic.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      This is the best time to start helping Rachel. We’d love to hear what you and your mother decide to do.
      Warm regards,

  17. Hello,
    my name is Robert Dow from Houston Texas. ive been feeding homeless people for about 5 years now twice a week. between 50 -75 meals each time. my church helps me out with providing eggs that i boil and bananas, when my church cant help i buy the egg,bananas and waters myself. and im on disability so i cant always afford everything., i want to do more to help the homeless and less fortunate . i dont post pictures of what i do because i dont care what people think, my church friends know that i like doing this. i figure that im doing what God would want me to do instead of all the bad things i use to do. i would really like to know what steps i could take to do more good. i am a felon so my resources are limited. i havent been in trouble since 2010 but my felonies follow me everywhere i go.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Robert
      I really admire you for turning your life around and doing so much good for others. Helping creates a feeling of pride and self-worth that nothing else can. I would highly encourage you to contact the author of this post, Jon Linton, as he is the authority in this area. Check out his website and facebook page – I have a Name. Jon may have a project going that you can join in on or give you some advice of what else you can do to help.
      Keep up the awesome work.
      Warm regards,

    2. Good for you Robert. I hope you continue to do good! Thank You for helping. We should all do our part. I want to start helping homeless people in my area. I’ve never done it before, but with this cold weather, and seeing so many homeless people… I just feel a tug on my heart to do something! Merry Christmas 🎄 From Jennifer Conklin in Southern California JCH

      1. RippleKindness says:

        Hi Jennifer,
        There’s nothing quite as rewarding as helping someone less fortunate. You will fill your own heart as well as theirs if you take the leap to help. Best of luck. – Lis 😍

    3. Carmen Tourney says:

      Robert I just want to say that I respect all you are doing. Clearly your experience with the law most likely created more compassion in you. While unfortunate that your past is a sort of millstone around your neck it is both admirable and important that you never give up your good attitude and good work. You may at times have to scale back for your own wellbeing but never ever quit. You sound like a wonderful person. Take care.

  18. A friend & myself are looking for ideas on how to help a woman & her daughter who live in a different state than us. They are currently living in a tent, the child is 14. We want to help but just don’t know where to start. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Hi Lynn
      That’s very kind of you wanting to help. I would suggest contacting Jon Linton, the author of this post as he is the authority in this area. Take a look at his website. He’s an awesome guy. https://www.ihaveaname.org/
      Warm regards,

  19. Me and my friend we just came up with this idea of helping homeless people by providing them with second hands clothes and we decided to do a documentary about that, so the world will understand the life’s of them. We from South Africa (Durban). If you are out there and you want to bring help please contact me on facebook Nicholus kzn cebo. God bless you.

  20. Forrest Deis says:

    I am in the process of deciding what service I can be to my fellow man. I can’t think of anything better
    than bringing the love of God to the homeless people that surround me. THANK YOU!

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Thank you for caring for others. I’m sure you will be of great service.

  21. I see homeless people every day. I ask my mom if I can help but she is scared something might happen I was homeless before I knew how it felt I am crying right now.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      When we saw homeless people in the city with my young children we would always buy them a meal. I felt this was the most useful thing we could do. It could sometimes feel overwhelming but my children learned a valuable lesson that there are many who are not as fortunate as they are.

  22. Im only 16 but i want to help out homeless people, it breaks my heart every time i see someone suffering living outside especially when it gets cold. I dont have alot of confidence with people so i find it hard to communicate, i even struggle to speak up in my family. I want to help to spread some love this so close to Christmas and help as much as possible,even if it is just one or two homeless people

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Georgia, it can be daunting approaching someone who is homeless but I can see that you have a humble and compassionate heart. I think it would be a lovely thing for you to help someone less fortunate this Christmas. We just posted a story called “The White Envelope” on the blog that you might like to read. It could fit in well with your idea for helping and may even get people from your family involved.

  23. unice andrews says:

    give up a room in yr house I have one

  24. 11. Start a social enterprise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *